Category Archives: Literature

“See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living”


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Whatever happened to time capsules? I think they only exist nowadays in television sitcoms, or otherwise waiting to be unearthed by the generations that planted them in their youth. I can only imagine how surreal it would be to see physical evidence of your past life. Right now, I’m amazed by the old Word documents from my laptop.

I haven’t posted in so long, so I think I’ll ease myself back into this by sharing someone else’s writing. This was saved several years ago on my desktop under “great find.” After some time, this piece reminds me of my outlook when starting college. Beyond recalling the parts on love and heartbreak, I now appreciate its discussion of money and power because I am striving–along with those around me–to create a career. I recommend reading this to yourself, before listening to the spoken word youtube clip. Shoutout to Andrea Gibson, this is classic.

“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with. Tell me why you loved them, then tell me why they loved you. Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through. Tell me what the word “home” means to you and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name just by the way you describe your bedroom when you were 8. See, I wanna know the first time you felt the weight of hate and if that day still trembles beneath your bones. Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain or bounce in the bellies of snow? And if you were to build a snowman, would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms? Or would you leave the snowman armless for the sake of being harmless to the tree? And if you would, would you notice how that tree weeps for you because your snowman has no arms to hug you every time you kiss him on the cheek? Do you kiss your friends on the cheek? Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad, even if it makes your lover mad? Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain? See, I wanna know what you think of your first name. And if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy when she spoke it for the very first time. I want you tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind. Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel. Tell me—knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old beating up little boys at school. If you were walking by a chemical plant, where smoke stacks were filling the sky with dark, black clouds, would you holler, “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud or would whisper, “That cloud looks like a fish, and that cloud looks like a fairy”? Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin? Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea? And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me, how would you explain the miracle of my life to me? See, I wanna know if you believe in any god, or if you believe in many gods. Or better yet, what gods believe in you. And for all the times you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself, have the prayers you’ve asked come true? And if they didn’t did you feel denied? And if you felt denied, denied by who? I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror on a day you’re feeling good. I wanna know what you see in the mirror on a day you’re feeling bad. I wanna know the first person who ever taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass. If you ever reach enlightenment, will you remember how to laugh? Have you ever been a song? Would you think less of me if I told you I have lived my entire life a little off key and I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry I just plagiarized the thoughts of the people around me who have learned the wisdom of silence. Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence? And if you do I want you to tell me of a meadow where my skateboard will soar. See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living. I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving. And if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes. I wanna know if you bleed sometimes from other people’s wounds. And if you dream sometimes that this life is just a balloon that if you wanted to you could pop—but you never would because you’d never want it to stop. If a tree fell in the forest, and you were the only one there to hear it, if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound, would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness? And lastly, let me ask you this: if you and I went for a walk, and the entire walk we didn’t talk, do you think eventually we’d kiss? No way. That’s asking too much—after all, this is only our first date.”

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Do I feel bad?

Nostalgia is a mixture of longing and contentment. The older I get, the more inclined I am to withhold remorse from those who miss their own fleeting moments of feeling alive. These two works encapsulate the surrender to fading eternal happiness.

Blow

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII) by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.

 

George’s last lines in Blow:  

So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my life has become. It’s always the last day of summer and I’ve been left out in the cold with no door to get back in. I’ll grant you I’ve had more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by while they’re making grand plans for it. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there’s almost not enough to stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door.

 

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Hit the books, they don’t hit back

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Sometimes re-reading a book that you knew when you were fourteen is equivalent to stepping into an entirely new book. When you’re young and sheltered, you can’t possibly understand the plight of others; you’re much more concerned with other pressing matters, such as confidently chatting with your crush in the hallways, or completing your study guide for Global History. Though some books we were subjected to actually are dry and inconsequential, others provide an eye-opening experience if revisited with our adult insight. Undoubtedly, we all know more about the human experience–our strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies–than we did in the ninth grade. Forty pages into Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, I noticed powerful words, phrases, and sections that my young mind deemed boring and irrelevant. I can’t wait to dissect more of the work I previously thought was “okay” and “too long.” Exposure to Southern mentality has peaked my interest in this novel, but the views on other topics also transcend to our contemporary lives and interests.

On southern towns: “People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.”

On reading: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

On summer: “Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.”

On girls: “I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagine things, that’s why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with.”

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